GMO crops not needed to guarantee food security in Nigeria - Agroecology expert


Experts training farmers on production of organic manure

By Jethro Ibileke

An expert in agroecology has said that Nigeria does not need genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops to ensure food security.

The Director of the Programme of Health of Mother Health Foundation (HOMEF), Mrs Joyce Brown, stated this at a one-day practical agroecology training for farmers held at the Gelegele community, Edo State.

Speaking on the theme, “Solving the food and climate crisis”, Brown explained that agroecology is a system of farming that focuses on restoring soil health, improving nutritional diversity and ensuring food sovereignty, whereas GMO-based plants, animals and microorganisms that have had their genetic material manipulated either by introducing genes from a related or unrelated species or by editing the organism within itself.

According to her, “We are here to train farmers to practice agricology. That includes organic pesticides and fertilizers. We have seen that industrial agriculture that includes GMOs, the use of pesticides is not actually solving the problem of food insecurity or addressing the problem of hunger.

“The government is introducing GMOs to solve the problem of food insecurity, but GMOs have been shown to have several implications that will even complicate the problems that we have in our agricultural system.

“Many of these HHPs registered and used in Nigeria have been proven to be linked to chronic health diseases such as cancer, kidney diseases, reproductive complications, endocrine disruption, hormonal challenges, skin diseases, organ failures, as well as biodiversity and environmental destruction.

“Farmers that we have interacted with complained that after the first planting, the GM crops do not perform well, and so they have to keep going to the corporations to buy the seeds.

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“Studies have also shown that consumption of GMOs have such health implications like cancers, birth defects and other issues. It has been shown that over 50 percent of the GMOs in Nigeria are classified as highly hazardous.”

Mrs. Brown, who noted that agroecology will help Nigeria achieve food sovereignty, urged governments at all levels to support agroecology and small-scale farmers with funds and access roads to their farms.

On his part, one of the trainers and Farm Manager of Be The Help Foundation, Abuja, Chukwu Agozirim, noted that agroecology is a modern system of farming that helps to eradicate poverty by increase food production and making the environment safe for humans.

He said Gelegele was selected due to the fact being an oil producing community, its soil has been contaminated.

“The main purpose is to train and enlighten the farmers on how they can go about their normal food production in spite of the contamination of their soil.

“We are bringing farming back to the olden days how our great-grandfathers were farming,” Agozirim said.

Highpoint of the programme was a practical session to train the farmers on how they can use locally-sourced materials to produce organic manure to grow their farm produce.

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